chairman's message

chairman's message

Excerpts from the incoming chairman’s address presented by Mauro Cifelli, VAST-Auto Distribution Ltd, at AWDA’s Annual Business & Education Conference, Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 28, 2018.

First, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your Chairman of the Board for the next 2 years.

I stand before you on the shoulders of so many who came before me.  The brilliant men and women who exemplify the slogan of AWDA, “The Pursuit of Excellence.”  People like Dick Downey and Marty Brown, the founders of the two groups that now makeup the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, a group that I am personally proud to be a member of.  

I am also especially proud to be only the second Canadian to Chair AWDA, after my fellow Alliance shareholder, Jim Tennant from Piston Ring. 

As you know, AWDA is the voice of and advocate for Warehouse Distributors within the aftermarket supply chain.  I will continue to maintain and bolster that voice during my tenure.  Together, we must work to safeguard the specific needs of the traditional supply chain community in an ever-changing auto care industry.

On a global basis, we are all threatened by issues of international trade and global tariffs. We will lean heavily on the Auto Car Association for guidance on these and other global issues. 

Closer to home, in the aftermarket, there are trends that must be monitored and acted on, including:
• Telematics that represents one of the greatest threats and opportunities in a single package.  By 2020 more than 90% of new cars will be equipped with telematics. OEM’s and their dealer network will be doing everything in their power to use that technology to draw service work back to the dealership. It is the position of ACA and AWDA that the vehicle data is the property of and should be controlled by the car owner. We will support ACA tirelessly to assure that legislation reflects this fundamental right. 
• Just as critical is legislative and regulatory influences on our industry.  It is crucial that we mobilize AWDA's members to increase their support of the Auto Care Association’s political influence and action plan.  My Alliance colleague and past Chairman Corey Bartlett has been a champion of the AAPAC and it is critical that the momentum he has established continue.  Moreover, my personal involvement with the Automotive Industry Association of Canada, will ensure that the already close relationship with the Auto Care Association strengthens our North American ties even more over the next two years.
• If vehicle repair wasn’t complicated enough already, it is set to become even more so as connected cars, automated vehicles and electrification inch close to mainstream.

But everything is not threats and challenges.  At the same time, many favorable market drivers are supporting demand for our segment:
• The aging vehicle fleet;
• Consumers continue to rely on vehicles to meet their mobility needs and;
• Miles driven have remained relatively stable even as fuel prices have crept up slightly.

We must look forward and plan for our collective future.  Critical to that mission is attracting young people into the industry.  The YANG group lead by my friend JC Washbish, will be instrumental in our collective efforts to attract, develop and retain the next generation of aftermarket professionals.  But in addition to attracting professionals to the ranks of manufactures and distributors, we must not lose sight of what is happening in the bays. 

In this crazy technology enabled world, where cars may be driving themselves, they are not yet fixing themselves.  Repair shops are the “revenue wellhead” of the automotive aftermarket and none of us in this industry makes a dime, until somebody in a shop hangs a part on a car.
I’m concerned that “revenue wellhead” is at risk.  Not enough young people see our segment as a desirable career path.  If we do not act soon to strengthen our ranks, all of us; manufactures, distributors, parts stores and shops alike will feel the pain.  We must continually up our game, our talents and professional image to succeed.

The AWDA Council of Governors has identified strategic initiatives critical to the well-being of its members including: 
• Increasing engagement of AWDA within the Auto Care Association;
• Mobilizing AWDA’s members to increase their support of the ACA’s political influence and action plan;
• Stressing to everyone in the vertical supply chain the benefits of the traditional distribution model;
• Continuously reviewing and updating AWDA’s mission and mandate to assure our relevance.

We must focus on the execution of these strategic initiatives to remain viable and effective AND, in order to continue to progress, AWDA must constantly anticipate the strategic factors likely to affect its members ability to prosper and succeed.

Our strengths as distributors remain our entrepreneurial spirit, our agility, and focus on effective execution.  But what truly makes us different, is the value and importance we put on building and nourishing strong business relationships.

In concluding, I would like to recognize: 
• The incredible staff at the Auto Care Association who tirelessly support and serve this great industry everyday, specifically, Larry Northup. We are very fortunate to have such a qualified and committed individual at the helm of AWDA.
• The AWDA Council of Governors for getting involved and allowing us to leverage their experience, skills, and talents to strengthen the position of warehouse distributors within the aftermarket.
• Outgoing Chairman Bobby Segal.  Thank you Bobby for your leadership, integrity and professionalism as Chairman for the past two years. Your focus and determination for setting a clear strategic direction for AWDA during your tenure as Chair has served as an inspiration to me.
• Finally, the amazing team at Groupe Del Vasto, specifically our founder and Chairman John Del Vasto for supporting and encouraging my involvement with AWDA.

I truly believe that the AWDA is stronger and more capable than it has ever been.  We have a forward thinking board, skilled and qualified staff and strong membership engagement and support. 

We are in great shape and set to face anything.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of industry week.

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